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Please visit me at REDEEMED...RESTORED...RELEASED: One Woman's Story of Living Free to read more about what God is doing in my life and how He is working those things to set me free. Thanks so much for following, visiting, reading all about it and supporting me as you have done so many times these last few years. If you follow my other blogs, the posts from all three of my blogs are going to be transferred to the new digs for one big blog about our journey to restoration and freedom in Christ.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday's In Other Words: Do Justice, Love Mercy

“A pharisee is hard on others and easy on himself,

but a spiritual man is easy on others and hard on himself.”

by A.W.Tozer

I am growing to LOVE A. W. Tozer and his concise, rich writings and teachings on the Christian journey. This reminds me of a song that Big Daddy Weave sings called Pharisee. I guess maybe this hit a cord in me because I am dealing with laying down judgmental attitudes that I developed over the years. Not judgments against others so much... God really has shown me that people in glass houses should NEVER. THROW. STONES. Because, of course, you never know when you might get it back.

I wrote a devotion for my curriculum about Embracing Grace that often times I will hear Christian leadership be critical of others and in so doing they are really sinning themselves by passing judgment on the circumstance of another. It doesn't prompt me to boycott their program, it prompts me to pray for their heart. To ask God why they are doing what they do, and how it is that people devoted to His Word could get so tied up in "doing" the law they miss the grace of God that is at its heart. The point I made in the devotion is that God set at work in the law His grace, not just by offering His Son in final atonement... But also in the fact that the observance of the law exemplified the grace of God at work in our own lives. Think of it - the first four commandments are the mark of devotion and love for God and the last six express His heart for mankind. Grace at work in the Law. We don't live under separate covenants - it is all one covenant with two parts. We don't live under grace and exclude the law anymore than we are to live under the law and exclude grace. They are not mutually exclusive, but were always purposed together to express the heart of God toward His people.

Now... I guess at this point I should say this - the reason for keeping the law is to keep ourselves lined up with God both in priniciple and deed.

Micah 6 tells us we are to "DO" justice and "LOVE" mercy. I think this pretty much sums it up for me. Doing justice means I do what is right, but loving mercy means that I extend grace to others.

Does this mean that I condone sin? NO! But, it doesn't mean I can willy nilly go around policing the lives of others based on my understanding of the Word of God. If someone has not given me permission to speak into their life, am I truly honoring God by beating them down with His Word?

Truth. I must carefully weigh the value. Case in point. My brothers and I were raised by honorable, Christian parents. I do not wish to dishonor them in any way. They were no more flawed or perfect than anyone else's parents both having backgrounds steeped in good moral values and skewed perceptions of the church and its role in the Christian walk. I spent much of my life passing judgment on their parenting by rebelling against it while my brother a year younger towed the line, did as much as he could to please them and seldom took up offenses on behalf of either of my parents.

After I began attending church in my late 20s I discovered that I had been pious, self-righteous and indignant toward my mother whom I blamed for nearly every trouble I had. I had to forgive her, accept her limitations and surrender her to God in prayer in order to find peace. Laying down any wound I felt was her responsibility and living with her in Paul's words, "As far as it depends on me, live at peace with all men."

Only more recently have I let go of the heavy wounds that I held against my father. Not because he was less deserving, but because those wounds did not add the strain to our relationship that the mother wounds had left in my relationship with my mom.

A few years back, my brother went through Christian counseling where he apparently was encouraged to confess any bitterness he harbored against others, especially in his family. He did so with my mother and me. It seemed that neither mother nor I anticipated, expected nor understood what he was trying to accomplish because the offenses he confessed did little more than insight hurt feelings and more offenses because we did not know what the point of the confession was. I totally missed he was asking for forgiveness and felt very judged and I am guessing my mother felt the same. Not... To dishonor my brother - he was only working through his own brand of misery and difficulties... It just turned into a big mess. One I would gather he did not intend to create.

The truth is, we all live in this human condition and have skewed motives and value systems based on a fallen existence. However, when rightly submitted to God - we have the power to forgive, to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and extend kindness and grace to others even when we ourselves feel they do nto deserve it. Why?

Because Jesus Himself did the very same thing on our behalf more than 2,000 years ago and to not do so would be denying His sacrifice, His love and His grace at work in our own lives.

Do Justice and Love Mercy... Perhaps I talked all around it this morning and missed the point of my own post. Or perhaps somewhere in this jumbled mess of thoughts and feelings is a message about God's heart that I have been learning and walking through the last 10 years. Either way I pray you are blessed and able to gleen from the mumblings of this humble servant. Be Blessed.

AMY at In Pursuit of Proverbs 31 is hosting this morning. Please stop on by and check out what others are saying "In OTHER Words." And, thanks Amy for a great quote!


luvmy4sons said...

I was raised with a critical spirit in my home. I battle against that same critical spirit within me. Yet again and again God has shown me my own that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have so much work to do...working out my live out my faith... that there need not be any time left over to concern myself with what others are doing. I can only control myself and that only by the grace of God.

Karen said...

Do justice and love mercy that did sum it up well. Thanks for sharing today.

Esthermay Bentley-Goossen said...

Yea... echo here. Growing up in a critical household does foster a spirit of grace. We must come upon this on our own. Which -- really -- ought to make it all the more present and alive! . . . And (to compound it in my own life) sometimes those in ministry do become so devoted to His Word that we do get tied up in "doing" and we miss the GRACE.

Your devotions to give me so much to reflect on...

Happy IOW Tuesday, friend!

Patricia said...

"If someone has not given me permission to speak into their life, am I truly honoring God by beating them down with His Word?"

Great point. Christ practiced relational evangelism...not pharisaical judgmentalism. We must get involved in a person's life before we can show them the Way. They must trust us before they will trust our words.

Thanks for such wonderful food for my brain today, Michelle!

Lynnette Kraft said...

Micah 6:8 is one of my favorite verses. "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

I discovered that verse for the first time back in 1992 when my baby, Samuel Micah, died. It's such a good reminder to keep it simple. We try to add so much into our walk...we put unnecessary rules and require so much of others - when the truth is we just need to do justly, love mercy and walk in humility.

Thanks for reminding me of that truth today.

PS By the way, your blog is very pretty. :)

MiPa said...

Michelle this is a powerful post. We sometimes have no idea how judgemental we are coming across. Often we are intending to deal with one thing, and create another situation. Thank you for sharing your family's struggles and revelations about difficult these relationships can be.

Denise said...

Wonderful post, thanks for sharing.

Ava Semerau said...

I really liked this post today - thanks for sharing your struggles and learnings. I've been surprised at how many of us hit on the judgmental aspect of the pharisees - and how many wonderful lessons there are for us to learn from today. Thanks!
AVA <><

Laurie Ann said...

Awesome post! I loved it.

Micah 6 tells us we are to "DO" justice and "LOVE" mercy. I think this pretty much sums it up for me. Doing justice means I do what is right, but loving mercy means that I extend grace to others.


Kay said...

Love this post! I've read your blog for a while now but never commented. I guess I'm de-lurking. lol Thanks for all the things you've shared in your blog. I'm sure you help many ladies in their struggles.

BTW.. you've been tagged. Hop over to see me for the info.

Julie said...

Hey friend, Thanks for sharing your heart!

I am so glad that He has come after my Pharisee heart.....

He is ruining me for the ordinary.